Monday, October 22, 2012

2000 World Series: Throwing bat shards

The Teams
American League: New York Yankees (87-74) - 37th World Series (Won 25 previous times)
National League: New York Mets (94-68) - Fourth World Series (Won in 1969, 1986)

What Happened
OK, so you can't really talk about this series without talking about this:

My favorite part of that is reading Roger Clemens' lips after he threw what was essentially a spear at Mike Piazza's feet: "I thought it was the ball." Like that would have made it better? Giving Clemens the benefit of the doubt for a moment - which is pretty hard since, you know, a ball and a bat are two pretty different things - how is it acceptable to field what you think is a ground ball and, instead of throwing to first to get the out, throwing right at the runner who hit the ball? That's normal procedure?

Nobody will really know what happened inside Roger Clemens' brain during that moment in the first inning of Game 2 - well, unless you just assume it's uncontrolled 'roid rage - but it cast a shadow over the entire World Series in 2000. It was supposed to be a rebirth of the great New York baseball dynasty, the 14th Subway Series, but the first involving the Mets. But it was quickly overshadowed by Clemens' moment of insanity, and quickly forgotten.

It's a shame, too, because it was a series that shouldn't have been forgotten that easily. It's true it only went five games, but all five games were decided in the late innings or, in the case of the great Game 1, extra innings. And all the games were still in doubt when the final pitch was thrown, with the tying run - or better - at the plate when the final out was made.

Game 1 might have been the best game of the series, with the Mets scoring three runs in the 7th to take the lead, blowing the lead in the bottom of the ninth, then losing on a two-out, bases-loaded single by Luis Vizcaino. The Yankees won Game 2, too, but had to sweat it out as the Mets scored five ninth-inning runs to turn a laugher into a 6-5 loss.

After a day off for travel - the Triborough Bridge must have just been hellish that day - the teams continued their tight play. The Mets finally got on the board in Game 3, scoring twice in the eighth to claim a 4-2 win. All the scoring in Game 4 came in the first three innings, with the Yankees bullpen preserving a 3-2 victory. The Yankees wrapped it up in Game 5, clinching the title when Piazza flied out to center as the game-tying run to end the game.

The Yankees had won their third straight title, and America yawned. Maybe the fact that it was New York vs. New York. Maybe it was the fact that every game ended after 11:30 eastern time. Maybe it was just that people were sick of the Yankees always winning. Whatever the reason, the only thing people seem to remember about the 2000 Series was Clemens' moment of insanity. It's too bad. There were only five games, but they were five pretty good ones.

Paul O'Neill batted .474/.545/.789 in the series, just jaw-dropping numbers. But Derek Jeter won the MVP award. Sure, he led off Game 4 with a home run, then hit the game-tying home run in the clincher. But that seems like the voters were picking the Captain, picking Mr. Yankee as a sort of lifetime achievement award more than anything else. But that could be just me.

Scores (Home team shaded; winners in Bold)

N.Y. Mets35 422
N.Y. Yankees 4 (12)6234

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

10. 2000 - New York (A) def. New York (N) 4-0
11. 1986 - New York (N) def. Boston (A) 4-3
12. 1962 - New York (A) def. San Francisco (N) 4-3
13. 1926 - St. Louis (N) def. New York (A) 4-3
14. 1995 - Atlanta (N) def. Cleveland (A) 4-2
15. 1960 - Pittsburgh (N) def. New York (A) 4-3
16. 1952 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-3
17. 1997 - Florida (N) def. Cleveland (A) 4-3
18. 1993 - Toronto (A) def. Philadelphia (N) 4-2
19. 1956 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-3
Numbers 20-29
Numbers 30-39
Numbers 40-49
Numbers 50-59
Numbers 60-69
Numbers 70-79
Numbers 80-89
Numbers 90-99
Numbers 100-107

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